Alright Twilight fans here’s a little change a of pace called Red Riding Hood with romance and werewolves that should fulfill your cravings until you can get more of Stephanie Meyer. However, don’t be too quick to jump into this one if you are a reasonable adult that’s looking for some horror that chills. The fright is fleeting and the terror no more scary than a large devilish dog. Mostly shot on two sets, the film could have easily been a theatrical play.
Most everyone remembers the story of Little Red Riding Hood and this film uses it in a very dark way. In a small isolated village in the deep forest live several families who have been fighting off a werewolf for years. Young Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) has reached the age of being married, but her older sister who has been promised to Henri (Max Irons) must be first. In the meantime Valerie has accepted the charms of Peter (Shiloh Fernandez )and is quite content on waiting. Suddenly the werewolf kills her sister and Valerie gets ordered to marry Henri. When the town comes under siege by the howling daemon, Valerie devises a plan to escape her fate.
The costume film takes on a striking aura with fairytale garb, ‘gingerbread’ cottages and thick forests. But, all the above looked like a theatre set perfectly placed and lifeless, even sand covers the ground in an attempt to resemble snow. Two main locations make up the film, the small town square with lower class buildings and an isolated house where grandma lives. The actors move about the sets reciting lines that direct all the action. I found this a little boring and listless at times.
Saving the film from total loss is the beast and the fight. Cruel and with a vengeance it attacks the townspeople for food. The battle against the creature and the intermittent love triangle keep Red Riding Hood interesting and palatable. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Julie Christi’s brilliant performance as grandma and Amanda Seyfried’s pervasive screen presence.
But, that’s not enough to make up for the lines Valerie has to say to her grandmother that add a feel of silliness during an important scene. A look at grandma’s eyes, ears and teeth by Valerie is all that’s needed here, but director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) goes for the punch, but looses the fight.
The film is rated PG-13 for violence and creature terror, and some sensuality. Immature youngsters may get easily freighted so take this into consideration before allowing them to go with siblings.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A teen chick flick that suffers from over indulgence in the fairy tale. (C-)